After traveling the world I’ve picked up a few indispensable tips on how to stay safe and protect yourself and your belongings on the road. Travel is stressful enough without adding in an element of danger so I believe it is important to plan ahead and be smart. It’s funny because we are more vulnerable to loss or theft when we travel and yet many people think less about their safety when they travel than they do at home. It’s easy to get caught up in the joy of the moment and forget about basic common sense. Thieves know this all too well and so this is something that we need to change.
Let’s start with packing that suitcase. We hear all the time about cases being lost and never retrieved. We know that airports generate huge volumes of unclaimed bags that are eventually shipped to a warehouse sale where lost items are picked up my frugal bargain hunters. We can help you avoid this. Most of the time airline bags legitimately go missing by a mistake and they aren’t actually stolen by dishonest baggage handlers.
First off ALWAYS watch to make sure that the Check-in Agent gets the proper airport name for the luggage tags and that they are properly put onto your bag. I have seen many occasions where agents just forget to tag a bag. The best way to protect yourself from a lost bag is to place your business card on top of your clothes inside the case. And then multi-tag your bag on all handles and on the outside with your home address, email and contact info. If you have elite tags from an airline loyalty program then use those as well.
Next up is insurance. Airlines operate under the Montreal Convention which is an universal agreement that allows them to pay a maximum of $175 per lost bag. Well I bet that doesn’t even cover the bag these days much less the contents. So have holiday insurance or a credit card that will cover most your costs if you have lost, stolen or even delayed luggage. And speaking of insurance, Medical Coverage is a must. You can also save yourself big dollars by having a credit card that covers the LDW on a rental car. One rental can easily pay for the yearly fee on the card.
If you lose your passport and driver’s license on your travels the FAA will actually let you through security after filling out forms (not many people know that). However it is much easier if you have a photocopy of your documents in your carry on. It may be a life saver. I also snap a picture of these and insurance documents, etc with my phone so that I always have a good visual copy with me just in case.
Once you’re in the air the best way on a long haul flight to keep your passport and wallet safe is to keep them on you at all times or to put them in a locked carry on bag. Please never place them in the pocket in front of you as that’s a recipe for disaster. Twelve hours later it is really easy to get up and leave them behind. As well, while you’re asleep shared overhead compartments are not that secure so I don’t recommend leaving them in a regular, unlocked case.
Once you arrive it is time to think about hotel security. Hotel staff can get into a room at will and so nothing is truly secure. Many hotels give you one keycard which is used to turn on the power in your room while you’re there and also to unlock the door when you come back. This is the safest approach and while this may be less convenient than having two cards and just leaving one in the slot all the time, I really don’t recommend this. Hotel staff can easily take that card and swap it for another one. This gives them access to you room at anytime. And since these keycards are computer controlled it will just look like it was you returning to your room. It’s very hard to prove anything nefarious took place. This happened to me in Malaysia courtesy of a well-organized and dishonest housekeeping staff.
I always keep my passport and wallet in the safe and only ever take out a credit card holder with one credit card, some cash and ID. This way if I lose it I still have most of my ID back in the hotel safe. One discipline I have though is to empty the safe the night before I check out and to not leave it until the last moment when I could forget it.
Now none of this is to scare you or to dissuade you from traveling, I just want to share some tried and true advice for protecting your and your belongings while you’re busy out seeing the world. I urge you all to be blissfully aware, stay in the moment and be safe, you’ll have a better, more enjoyable journey if you do.
Daniel Green, the Model Cook is a Celebrity Chef known for his healthy approach to food and living well. With TV, books, magazines and live appearances, Daniel spends his time helping fans to cook better, feel better and live better. He’s also an avid traveler and a self-confessed Foodie.